Volume s1-26, Issue 5
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645


Causes of death determined by autopsy are among the most reliable of vital statistics if the autopsies represent an adequate sample of deaths in the general population and if they are done properly. Accurate data as to the causes of death in tropical lands are rarely available because of the scarcity of laboratory facilities and because of the difficulty of obtaining permission for autopsy from the natives. Isolated reports of individual diseases tend to emphasize the spectacular rather than the more frequent and more important causes of death. It seemed worthwhile, therefore, to utilize the unique advantages of this institution and compile these data from the records. A brief report based on 4,806 autopsies during the period 1904–1916 was published locally by Clark (1).

During the forty year period 1904–1944, 21,000 bodies were received at the Board of Health Laboratory, Gorgas Hospital, Ancon, Canal Zone, 68 per cent of which were autopsied.


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